Tomorrow we celebrate the longest night of 2017, a time to put forth your best intentions moving forward.
The Wheel of the Year gives us a very tangible way of integrating sunlight and shadow, light and dark, yin and yang, inner and outer, and heaven and earth, into our lives and into our yoga practice. At the summer solstice when the light is at its most expansive, we learn to stay connected to the inner wisdom and healing powers of darkness. At the winter solstice when darkness has peaked, we learn to create a space within our own hearts for the return of the Sun.
On this longest & darkest night is a deeply-trusted nocturnal delight, a sort of spiritual pillow where we rest our head and nestle under soft layers of a velvety void. The darkest night contains the most magnetic power, too; this is a time to draw forth what you want, to incubate your best intentions. As you're cuddling in the cradle of a lingering midnight, nurture high hopes for your future.
During the winter solstice the sun hugs closer to the horizon than at any other time during the year, giving way to the least amount of daylight annually. But on the bright side, the day after the winter solstice marks the beginning of lengthening days leading up to the summer solstice. The winter solstice is a poignant time to stop and listen, to harmonise our energy and reassess our connection to our spirit and life’s purpose. It is a powerful time of re-birth and transformation – to acknowledge our shadow, heal our wounds, release old thought patterns and align with our light to illuminate our highest destiny.
Winter Solstice in the Northern hemisphere coincides with the sun's ingress into earth-sign Capricorn, the sign traditionally aligned with the knees. Kneel in gratitude for your body, your practice, your life. Let saying the word knees be a kind of yogic mnemonic for thinking about your needs. Which ones really could use some attention now? While you are working on the answer to that question, please your knees in these poses, which connect you to Mother Earth.
Virasana (Hero Pose): Begin in a kneeling position. As you sit back, let this pose remind you of your most heroic self. Courageous in the face of darkness, you carry an inner light.
Malasana (Garland Pose): Keeping with the spirit of the season, the name of this asana is reminiscent of holiday wreaths and the fresh scent of pine—which is actually an aromatherapy associated with the month of Capricorn. As you squat on the earth and feel its support, remember that you are harnessing the energies of Capricorn, an earth sign.
Padangusthasana (Standing Big Toe Pose): In this standing forward bend, let your gaze rest on your knees. Offer gratitude for the support they bring to your every step. Thank them for carrying you forward.
Winter Solstice has been a time of celebration, rest, and emotional and physical nourishment for thousands of years. The Feast of Saturnalia was a grand fête held in ancient Rome around this time of year to honor the greatness of Capricorn’s planetary ruler, Saturn. As you enjoy the longest night and the brightest lights of the season, please remember this: your soul is the light of the world. You carry the light within you. You shine.
Wishing you a soulful Winter Solstice. Namasté.